Cherry Love: Brighten Your Plate and Palate With Cancer Protection
Sweet or tart, fresh or frozen, cherries can brighten your plate and palate during the short, dark winter days. These red gems also boast valuable nutrients and cancer prevention in their tiny packages.
Americans pay particular attention to this cheerful fruit during the month of February – whether serving up a red-themed Valentine's day meal or retelling the story of young George Washington and the demise of one small cherry tree.
Picture Perfect Nutrition
Cherries are packed with vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber, with only about 70-90 calories per cup (sweet cherries have a few more calories). Except for vitamin C, nutrients in frozen and canned cherries are nearly nutritionally equivalent to fresh.
Their rich red color comes from anthocyanins, a group of phytochemicals that lab research shows slow cancer cell growth and stimulate their self-destruction. Another phytochemical in cherries, perillyl alcohol, has similar effects and it may also act to disable carcinogens.
Versatile and Vibrant
In the United States, cherries are in season from May through August. So this time of year your best bet is the freezer aisle for bags of unsweetened tart or sweet cherries. You can also find cherries canned in light syrup or water, or try dried cherries for more intense flavoring. All can be used in baking, cooking or in a mixed fruit salad.
From salads to desserts, here are ways cherries can add color and flavor to your meals:
- Green salads – add halved sweet cherries or a handful of dried cherries along with pecans and a sprinkling of blue cheese.
- Whole grain dishes – try a brown rice or quinoa pilaf with tart cherries, dried apricots, onions and curry spices.
- Meats and poultry: top with a cherry sauce or cherry salsa.
- Dessert: Try our Very Berry Bread Pudding or dip sweet or tart cherries in dark chocolate for a simple, elegant treat.
- Snack Time: Mix dried cherries into your oatmeal or morning cereal, in muffins or other quick breads, with yogurt or with nuts and other dried fruits for an on-the-go power snack.
For more cancer-fighting recipes, visit the AICR Test Kitchen.